Molecular markers of steroid sensitivity in fetal immune and endothelial cells

Project Faculty: Olayemi O. AdeoyeEugenia I. Mata-Greenwood

  • Maternal obesity is present in ~30% of pregnancies in the US. Obese women have a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications and their offspring have a higher risk of fetal, perinatal, neonatal and infant morbidity and mortality. An important biological and largely understudied factor that could be regulated by maternal obesity is glucocorticoid sensitivity. Our preliminary studies showed important correlation between maternal obesity and fetal vascular endothelial prooxidant and procoagulant response to dexamethasone. These studies also showed that fetal immune cells from obese pregnancies had significantly lower in vitro response to dexamethasone than cells derived from non-obese mothers. Based on these findings, we hypothesized that maternal obesity impairs fetal immune cell glucocoticoid sensitivity. Two major aims were written to test this hypothesis. 

Long-term hypoxia alters cytochrome P450 3A4 activity during pregnancy in ovine species

Project Faculty: Olayemi O. Adeoye

  • The absolute avoidance of medication during pregnancy, though desired, might not be practical because of preexisting comorbidities, pregnancy induced disorders (e.g. gestational diabetes), preeclampsia, or even fetal disorders.Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A accounts for the metabolism of over 60% of clinically used drugs and environmental xenobiotics. CYP expression is altered by pregnancy as well as pathologies attributable to hypoxia like eclampsia, placental insufficiency and illicit drug use. We hypothesize here that long term hypoxia (LTH) alters CYP3A4 activity in pregnant ovine species via epigenetic and enzymatic post-translational mechanisms. To generate the hypoxic experimental groups, non-pregnant and pregnant sheep were taken to an altitude of 3820m above sea level for 110 days while normoxic controls for each group were kept at sea level. Post sacrifice, precise cuts of liver segments were cleaned of blood, microsomes were isolated and CYP3A4 activity, CYP3A4 abundances and Protein Kinases A & C (PKA & PKC) abundances were assayed.

Project 1: Investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are involved in the neuropathogenesis of acute leukemias (AML & ALL)

Project Faculty: Olivia Francis-Boyle, Aimable Ngendahimana

Partners: Department of Pathology & Human Anatomy, School of Medicine

  • In these studies, we are investigating the migratory patterns of acute leukemia cells across the blood brain barrier (BBB) using a novel BBB triculture in vitro system.

Project 2: Evaluation of potential therapeutic candidates for the treatment of acute leukemias (ALL & AML)

Project Faculty: Olivia Francis-Boyle, YiDavid Xu

Partners: Department of Pathology & Human Anatomy, School of Medicine

  • In this study, we are evaluating the efficacy of a combination of immunotherapies Anti-PD-1 Therapy and Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes for the Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Project 3: Evaluation of potential therapeutic candidates for the treatment of acute leukemias (ALL & AML).

Project Faculty: Olivia Francis-Boyle, Kristopher Boyle

Partners: Department of Pathology & Human Anatomy, School of Medicine

  • In this study, we are investigating the efficacy of DSA for the treatment of acute leukemias.

CNS effects of pyschostimulants

Project Faculty: WeiXing Shi, Ike de la Pena

  • This project is aimed at understanding the circuit, cellular, molecular mechanisms underlying the CNS effects of psychostimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine.

Development of a 3D cell culture model for mimicking the Blood-Tumor Barrier (BTB) ex-vivo 

Project Faculty: Aimable Ngendahimana, Olivia-Francis Boyle

  • A major limitation in CNS-cancer drug delivery is the human Blood-Tumor Barrier (BTB). The BTB relies on efflux transporters to limit drug entry into brain parenchyma, thus presenting a significant hurdle in CNS-cancer drug delivery.Efflux activity is often evaluated using in vitro drug permeability assays in the course of drug develepment in order to predict potential drug-drug interactions and drug toxicites mediated by efflux transporters. This project is aimed at developing a physiologically relevant model of the BTB for applications in screening potential CNS-cancer drugs and drug delivery systems.

Obesity-Induced Cognitive Dysfunction: Mechanism and Treatments

Project Faculty: Ike de la Pena, Johnny Figueroa, Wei-Xing Shi

Partners: Department of Basic Sciences, School of Medicine

  • The objectives of this study are to examine how obesogenic diets alter the bidirectional relationship between the PFC and dopamine neurons, and to explore potential pharmacological treatments that will enhance dopaminergic signaling in the PFC and ameliorate obesity-induced cognitive impairments.

Impact of employment on pharmacy student academic success

Project Faculty: Kyle Sousa

  • As the cost of pharmacy education increases, students are left with the decision of how to finance their education. Although many students take out loans or qualify for grants or scholarships, others, however, are left with no choice but to seek and sustain full-time or part-time employment over the course of their graduate studies. This study aims to 1) assess the employment status of students enrolled in Doctor of Pharmacy programs 2) assess the impact of student employment on a variety of factors underpinning student academic success - these include: GPA, student progression, degree completion, stress, wellness, and burnout, and professional identity formation.

Academic Affairs And Supporting Students with Disabilities

Project Faculty: Kyle Sousa

  • The number of students with disabilities enrolled at postsecondary institutions has grown rapidly since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Nonetheless, students with disabilities are still significantly less likely than their peers to access higher education or to complete a degree. This discrepancy represents a pressing equity challenge for academic affairs and student affairs professionals who have long been concerned with creating equitable outcomes for students. However, few studies have examined how prepared academic affairs professionals are to support students with disabilities. We hypothesize that academic affairs professionals may use subjective, informal theories drawn largely from disparate knowledge bases and personal experiences rather than empirical studies to support to support a minoritized population. As a result, this study aims to: 1) assess perceptions of the accommodations process among academic affairs versus student affairs professionals 2) what role do these perceptions play in the development of policies and strategies academic affairs professionals use to support the academic success of students with disabilities? and 3) what, if any, support gaps exist between student and academic affairs professionals in the context of supporting students with disabilities.

Synergistic effects of duocarmycin SA and proton radiation for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme

Project Faculty: Kristopher Boyle, Marcelo Vazquez (PI)

Partners: Department of Basic Sciences, School of Medicine

  • Duocarmycin SA (DSA) is one of the most potent antitumor antibiotics known, and has been studied for decades as a potential cancer therapeutic. Gliioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a deadly brain cancer, which is primarily treated using proton radiation. We are investigating the combination of DSA and proton radiation for the treatment of GBM, and have found synergistic cell killing potential in the combination. Current studies focus on elaborating the mechanisms of cell death produced by the combination therapy approach, and methods to target DSA specifically to GBM cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues.